CA revamps mgmt. software for ‘on-demand’ computing

Computer Associates International Inc. Tuesday upgraded three network management software products and introduced another, all to support customers working toward an on-demand computing model.

On-demand, or utility computing, refers to the idea of pooling system resources and then using the capacity as needed by better aligning it with business processes and applications.

CA this spring announced its plans for on-demand computing along with upgrades to six Unicenter software tools. CA said its goals in the upgrades are to deliver IT as a service, provide self-management capabilities and develop a service-oriented architecture. The strategy followed similar roadmaps from hardware and software makers (and CA’s top competitors) IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. Others to get in on the utility computing game include Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Veritas Software Corp.

This week CA continued updating products under its Unicenter management brand to give enterprise network managers the ability to adopt on-demand computing without changing their infrastructure.

“From an on-demand perspective, we are trying little by little to make CA and Unicenter the management specialist in enterprise networks,” says Gale Persil, director of Unicenter network management at CA. “The more intelligence we add to our software, the more adaptive equipment makers make their gear, the more we can address this bit by bit. And I say bit by bit because you get throttled back by customers that are a little bit afraid of the software taking over their machines.”

A new product, Unicenter NSM Wireless Network Management Option 3.0 (the company brands new Unicenter software at Version 3.0 to keep the version consistent with other Unicenter products), provides enterprise network managers with an integrated management console tracking both wired and wireless network elements. The wireless option can detect rogue access points and rogue devices on a network, as well as provide visual mapping capabilities to help staff more quickly locate areas where the performance of wireless components is degrading.

The software works from a dedicated server and polls the network to determine what’s there and how it’s performing. Many products in CA’s network management line do not deploy agents, but rather send out probes to devices and pull data from management information bases (MIB) and syslogs on the device.

While the new wireless network software lets IT managers see both wired and wireless assets in one screen, it does not correlate the performance of the separate network elements. CA says its engineers are currently working toward providing a feature that would interrelate wired and wireless network performance.

Persil says managing wireless alongside wired networks goes along with CA’s on-demand plan in that it offers IT managers more intelligence from their tools and helps them see more in their infrastructure with less manual effort.

CA also upgraded three Unicenter management tools: NetMaster Network Management for TCP/IP 7.0; NSM Network Performance Option 3.5; and Advanced Network Operations 3.5.

From wireless to mainframes, CA says it is working to provide a means to report on all network devices with one interface. NetMaster Network Management for TCP/IP addresses the OS/390 mainframe environment. The software has a new Windows-based reporting model that lets network managers see mainframe metrics alongside distributed data, and in the same format. The company enhanced the amount of data it can pull from connectors and Cisco SIP cards as well.

“We wanted to provide a secure, dynamic and customizable interface into the mainframe because it is such a critical part of the network strategy at most enterprises,” Persil says.

Network Performance Option now includes a Web front end that can be integrated into CA’s CleverPath portal software for easier administration and management. The software once included both network and systems management capabilities, but Persil says in an attempt to allow CA customers to be more modular, the company now offers the network and systems performance tools separately. Also new to this release are Web-based reporting features.

The company upgraded its diagnostics tool, Advanced Network Operation, to be more scalable and manage more endpoints across Frame Relay, ATM and switched networks. The software is integrated with CA’s portal offerings to provide more metrics and allow personalization for a variety of employees.